Friday, 29 April 2016

Caskets From Costco by Kelly Wilson

Kelly Wilson is an author and comedian who entertains and inspires with stories of humor, healing, and hope. She is the author of Live Cheap and Free, Don’t Punch People in the Junk, and Caskets From Costco. 

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Kelly writes and speaks about finding hope in the process of recovery. She currently writes for a living and lives with her Magically Delicious husband, junk-punching children, dog, cat, and stereotypical minivan in Portland, Oregon. 

Read more about her on Wilson Writes.


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About the Book


For twenty years, I thought that I had been marching through the stages of grief in a straight line. I had been following the formula, crossing each processed grief experience off my list. 

Except that I was totally deluded. And I didn’t discover that until Jim, my beloved father-in-law, died. I found myself drying off from my shower the morning after his death, really hoping he couldn’t see me naked. Or, if he could, that he was averting his eyes. 

From that moment, my path through grief resembled a roller coaster, spiraling and twisting and turning, circling back around. Echoes of past trauma, including childhood abuse and cheating death, would no longer be ignored. I somehow needed to get from the beginning to the end of this grief adventure, and I don’t have a good sense of direction. 

But what is always present during a journey through grief, regardless of the path chosen? 

Hope. 

Caskets From Costco is a funny book about grief that demonstrates the certainty of hope and healing in an uncertain and painful world, and has been named a Foreword Reviews' 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards Finalist.

Get it today on Amazon!


Keep reading for an excerpt:


I discovered that Costco sells caskets in October 2009. Have you ever seen a collection of caskets in the middle of a Costco warehouse? I haven’t, and I wish they’d carry them in the store instead of only online. I imagine a large circle of caskets set up where the tables of clothing usually stand, arranged head to toe with room on both sides for browsing and comparing. To make good use of this space, some caskets could hold collections of smaller products or trays of food samples.

Many times, vendors come into Costco and set up tables to sell unique goods and services. Why not a series specializing in caskets and wakes along cultural themes? The Irish wake could feature bottles of Irish Cream and potatoes, and Greek Week could offer samples of Feta cheese and gyros made in the café with some shots of ouzo. Envision for a moment the week preceding Halloween, where employees dressed as ghosts and ghouls could pop out, thrilling shoppers who like to buy in bulk.

I imagine some people would find this distasteful, and that’s why they don’t do it.

My counselor Hannah told me about Costco caskets when my husband needed an MRI for a long-suffering back issue. I was convinced that the MRI would find a tumor the size of a tennis ball pressing on his spinal cord, or something equally ominous.

“So, what you do NOT need to do is start shopping for caskets,” Hannah said.

I nodded, sniffling, wiping my eyes with a crumpled tissue. I sat hunched in the black leather chair in one corner of Hannah’s office, snuggled under a heavy fleece blanket. It was evening, the lights low, the scent of a Yankee Vanilla Candle – no other brand was at all acceptable to Hannah – wafting through the air.

Hannah sat across from me, curled into the black leather couch, also under a blanket. Her brown, wavy hair escaped from the casual bun gathered on the back of her head.

“Although you could,” she continued, “on Costco-dot-com.” She flashed an impish grin and adjusted her glasses.

I smirked. “Right.”

“No, you can,” Hannah insisted. “I promise.”

“What category is it under?” I asked. “Furniture?” “Caskets.”

I threw my head back and guffawed.

“Yep,” Hannah continued. “There’s a tab across the top of the webpage. I didn’t believe it, so I clicked it. Consequently, my husband had all kinds of questions.”

I giggled. “Like what?”

“Do they deliver? To your house or to the store? Is there any assembly required? Can you choose the lining?”

“Oh, STOP!” I said. “He did not.”

“He did! He went on for 15 minutes! ‘Do you have to pay taxes? Is there a double warranty like when you buy electronics? Does it come in a box? Will they help you get it out to your car?’”

I thrashed around in the chair, shoulders shaking. “I can’t take it,” I said.

Hannah uncurled from under the blanket, tossing it aside and reaching for her slip-on shoes while my laughter subsided. When she put on her shoes, I knew that our time was almost up. She perched on the edge of the couch, and her eyes met mine.

“The point is,” she said, “that although you could shop for caskets, you don’t need to. There are a few steps before that.”

“Like what?” I smiled. The laughter had alleviated the fear somewhat.

“Like getting information. Let’s just see what the MRI says.”

I nodded. “I can do that.” I wiped the tears from my face with a crumpled tissue. “I’m scared, though.”

“Yep,” Hannah said with a nod. “But you have so much strength. There’s so much about you that’s strong and healthy, you just don’t see it because you live in your own skin. Your fear is actually a sign of that strength.”

I started crying again, but this time for a totally different reason besides fear for my husband. I rejoiced for a moment that my fear wasn’t a sign of weakness, but of strength. It gave me hope, realizing that all of the loss and grief I’d experienced had built up my emotional muscles, and they weren’t going to let me down now.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Soulless by Ismael Manzano

Ismael Manzano resides in the Bronx with his wonderful wife (also a published writer) and his amazing son. He's a fan of history -- specifically Roman and Tudor England -- and loves all forms of fantasy and science fiction. 

His short fiction has been accepted for publication at Grey Matter and This Dark Matter. His Urban Fantasy novel, Soulless (Book one of the Soul Broker Series) was released March 08th 2016 by Fantasy Works Publishing.


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About the Book


The devil’s not the only one buying souls; both sides need them to fight their war, and both have something to offer in return. Nearly anything is possible if you're the type of soul they're looking for. Charlotte Furio learns this the hard way, when a spirited and mysterious woman named Trisha follows her home one night and offers her ailing father a simple choice: a healthy body for his immortal soul.

His decision introduces Charlotte to the world of soul brokering, and Charlotte is not only drawn to it, but finds she has a knack for it. Having lived the last decade of her life with only one purpose—to care for her increasingly disabled father—Charlotte sees this as her chance to give direction and meaning to her own life, and the lives of others. To help them, as she had helped her father.

Her mission is quickly derailed when Charlotte is framed for the murder of one of the brokers' leaders. Where she once had only one purpose, now Charlotte has two—get her father's soul back, and find a way to prove her innocence before it's too late.


Get it today on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo!


Keep reading for an excerpt:


I walked around the car so I could jump into the passenger's seat, waited for the crowd to thin and calmly—barely holding onto my senses—asked for the knapsack. It weighed nothing, but when I opened it, I found a parchment resting peacefully and eagerly inside of it. The full moon was out, and the sky was cloudless and unobtrusive, so when the pale, silvery light touched the papyrus, it was not reflected but enhanced. Trisha started the engine, and put the convertible’s top up to block the moonlight, then adjusted her mirror. Her face glowed nearly as bright as the papyrus. 

The windows were tinted so I felt safe removing the parchment completely from the bag. The second my hand touched it, I felt a rush of something inexplicable, like a jolt of pleasurable lightning traipsing through my nerves and extending outward to the world at large. At first, I thought Trisha had pulled out a taser gun and had shocked me, but nothing hurt. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to enjoy the strangeness of the sensation. Shivers passed through me randomly, tingles that lit my skin. Without knowing how, I knew those shivers were my body's reaction to people passing alongside the car. It was as if I was connected to the air through which they moved. I heard the wind pushing through the desiccated leaves still clinging to their branches, and it sounded like water rushing around a brook. The smells of the city, even through the confinement of the car, assailed my nostrils as if someone had bottled it up and threw it—concentrated—into my lap.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Plastic Face by JESSie NW

A precocious child from birth, who rolled over at three months, walked at seven months, talked at 11 months; graduated with honors from high school at 16 and always knew what she did and did not want, whether she got it or not. It is no wonder that JESSie, who is an avid reader and pacesetter, began her writing career while in a mid-life crisis. Although she earned an AA in Fashion Design and a BA in Business Administration concentrating in Computer Technology, she has always made her own way, not asking anyone else to endorse her choices, but ever ready to be an endorser and supporter of others.

As the first born of three girls, JESSie has exampled independence, compassion, teamwork, sportsmanship, and citizenship to her siblings and friends. She has not always been a saint, but she has sought to become one in the last few years; and although her works intertwine bits of sensual, suggestive encounters it is her way of debriefing her thoughts during this spiritual transition.

JESSie has vocationally tried her hand at many things, which include, but is not limited to Head Hunting; Telecommunications, Project Management, Program Management and finally a Supervisor for Homeland Security, yet none has equaled the enjoyment and sense of fulfillment writing brings. She is generous to a fault, subtle, energetic, pointed, deep thinking, funny, sarcastic, and a lover of games. All of which is seen in her writing style and her approach to characters' development. Her wit and charm will entice you to read further into the adventures, which envelope her characters and will seduce your senses and challenge your intelligence. You will not readily put down any of her books but will rather develop a taste for the sensuous, delightful and sublime.

She is a name to be remembered, a force with which to be reckoned, a new kid on the block with stories that will move you for a lifetime!

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About the Book


The Plastic Face is a book based on fiction and narrated by Jessica Solomon, nicknamed Jessie. Jessie Solomon grew up with a mother and father that have sustained a strong stable relationship that has outlasted most connections. Part One of this work of art was originally released in June of 2013; now as of November 25, 2015, the complete story in paperback (or Kindle) is also available for holiday gifting.

On the surface her strength, success and wisdom are always aglow, but she knows what lies beneath it all. Will they still love and respect her once they know the truth? Can she count on their support through the upcoming trauma? Life is beautiful because they care for each other, until… there is always that “UNTIL”

Get it today on Amazon and Createspace!


Keep reading for an excerpt:


On Wednesday September 1, Clarisse and Eddie left home around 8:45P to return movies to Blockbusters two days after the due date. Earlier the same day they surprised me by picking me up from work so we could ride home together as a family. Eddie could not understand why I was working so hard. He wanted me to delegate more. I didn’t argue with him anymore I just worked from home two days a week to alleviate his concerns. He was having trouble sleeping when I worked such long hours coming in after he was in bed. He said he needed me next to him so he could fall asleep. He missed me. I thought that was crazy 1) because he was snoring every time I lay down, 2) because he talked to me a hundred times a day. Reminding me to eat, drink my water, and take my vitamins and a plethora of other things. My promotion was so new I need to make a good impression. He acts as if he gets this when we talk about it, but he still tells me to slow down, cut my hours. 

“You are the incubator, you can’t move around so much; let my babies sleep once in a while.” 

I never felt tired and these kids do not sleep. However, when I lay down I drop into a deep sleep within minutes. 

Today I lay awake for hours trying to forget that night. 

But on this night Eddie pulled up to the ATM at our local bank located six blocks from our new house. Clarisse is on the passenger side. They have tried two other drive-up machines finding them out of money, why because it is the weekend. Finally, this third machine allows a transaction. Before Eddie can reach for the $20.00 dollar bill, a thug snatches the bill out of the machine while holding a nine millimeter automatic weapon in his other hand. Clarisse turns to see another thug standing to her right side attempting to open her door then the back door; he is smiling down at her through the glass. Now he steps slightly behind her speaking to the armed assailant. Eddie is attempting to negotiate with the fortified man on his side of the vehicle. See, there are five accounts at this bank, a joint account for family funds, one for the children, Clarisse and each of us holding individual accounts. We rarely keep any more than the minimum in the family account its only for bills and household junk, plus it happens to be the day before payday. Eddie just wants to go into his pocket and get another card for his personal account. The gangster doesn’t want to hear what he is saying and really doesn’t like his movements. Bang, bang, bang. The gun fires three rounds in succession then a fourth in the direction of Clarisse. Because Eddie never places the car in park when he pulls up to any drive thru teller, once the first shot hits him; the car starts to drift forward down the inclined driveway across the one-way street and on to a lawn of a resident. The second and third shots hit him in his back towards his heart and his right lung consecutively. Clarisse is hysterical as her father falls limp in her lap bleeding profusely. “I love you,” he says, his last words. When the car finally finds a landing on the foreign lawn the owner emerges to access the damage.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Shadow Stalker: Into My Own (Episode 15) by Renee Scattergood

Renee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn't start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties.

Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy. She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels.

Aside from writing, she loves reading (Fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6).

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About the Book


Just when Auren thinks she'd had enough of Kado's overbearing and overprotective nature, he surprises her by apologizing and admitting he had been wrong. Auren finally accepts that she is not at fault for Cali's death after visiting her in the shadow world, but Kado and Makari are still preventing her from confronting Drevin. They don't feel she is ready, and Auren is beginning to believe they will never let her fulfil her destiny. It's time she takes matters into her own hands.

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If you haven't read any of the Shadow Stalker serial yet, Part 1 (Epsiodes 1 – 6) is available free!


Keep reading for an excerpt:


Everything in my life was crumbling around me. I had lost my two best friends in the world. After Jade was captured, Cali had become my best friend. She was the person I depended on for my sanity, and now she was gone too. The man I loved faced danger living with our enemy on a daily basis, and Kado only seemed interested in adding to my pain. He was never one for affectionate comfort, but he didn't seem to care at all lately how I was feeling. I hated him. I had to get ahold of myself though. If I kept crying like this he might decide I was too emotionally unstable, and I'd never get away to stop the Galvadi once and for all.

In that moment, I was tempted to leave Appolia for good. I could try to convince Makari to leave the Galvadi, and we could go off on our own somewhere while I figured out what to do about Drevin. Of course, he was more likely to side with Kado in his desire to keep me safe, so maybe I'd be better off on my own. I just couldn't stand the thought of losing one more person I loved. I might finally break and become the person Kado had seen in his vision on the Dark Isle.

I curled into a tighter ball and bit my lip to stifle my sobs as someone entered the alcove. I didn't have to see who it was to know it was Kado. Maybe if I didn't attract his attention, he'd leave me alone. No such luck though. He sat behind me on the floor, a little closer than was comfortable in that moment for two reasons. I didn't want to be anywhere near him, and he brushed against my sore thigh that he'd whipped raw with the switch only moments before. I gasped and resisted the urge to pull away when I felt his hand on my head.

"We need to talk," he said, softly.

I didn't speak or move. There was no point. I'd just wait for his lecture to start.

"I'm not here to lecture you, Auren. I'm here to apologize."

I pushed myself up onto my elbows, wondering if I'd heard him correctly. His expression was sincere and surprisingly remorseful. He had never apologized for punishing me before. Not once. Ever. I wasn't sure what to think.

"I was too hard on you under the circumstances," Kado admitted. "I know losing Cali was extremely difficult for you, and I know you're under a lot of pressure from all the expectations being placed on you. With everything that's happening, it's easy to forget how young you are. And more, with all the natural talent you have, and your rare abilities, it's easy to forget how little training you've received. It's unfair of me to expect you to accept death so readily, especially when I'm the reason you have not lived as a shadow stalker throughout your childhood."

I tried sitting up, but I was still in too much pain. Kado closed his eyes when I hissed through clenched teeth, then helped me sit up.

"Kado, I—"

"Let me finish and then you can speak."

I nodded.

"The people on Appolia fear death, and you've had that fear ingrained in you. Even now that you understand more about the shadow world, that fear still lurks inside. Nothing I say or do is going to change that. It's something you will have to come to terms with in your own time. Had I taken that into consideration when Cali was first captured, I could have helped you cope with your loss instead of expecting you to accept it. Things may have turned out much differently, so I'm just as responsible for your behavior as you are, and I'm sorry for that."

I wasn't sure what to say, so I nodded. I certainly never expected him to take responsibility for what I had done. I shifted on the hard ground and quickly regretted it. I turned away to hide the wince. This was a side of Kado I'd never seen before.

Kado gave my hand a squeeze. "What do you fear most about death?"

I opened my mouth to answer before realizing it wasn't something I had thought about in detail before. The more I considered it, the more I realized I wasn't afraid of death. "I know everyone I love is in the shadow world. I know I can see them any time I need them. It's not enough though. It's here that I miss them. It's here that I'll never see them again, hear their voices, or feel their arms around me."

"I do understand, Auren. That part is hard for all of us, but dwelling on it will only bring you pain. I know I don't show it, but I'm hurting over Cali too. I will miss her greatly. I still miss my wife, Raven, and she died over ten years ago. When Shai was with the Galvadi, and I thought I'd never see her alive again, there were days I thought I wouldn't be able to cope. So when I feel that way, I focus on what I need to be doing in that moment. It's hard, Auren, but it's what keeps the pain from overwhelming you, and eventually it passes. It never goes away entirely, but it becomes bearable."

"I wish it was that easy for me, but I can't stop—" Another sob escaped, so I bit my lip again to keep from breaking down. "I can't stop thinking about her."

Kado sighed. "Maybe it's the lack of closure, and the traumatic way Cali died."

"That could be it," I admitted. It didn't help that I still blamed myself for her death either.

"Then perhaps you should visit the shadow world and speak with her," Kado suggested.

Why hadn't I thought of that myself? Then again, I really didn't have a chance to consider it. The moment I had returned to Appolia after witnessing Cali's death, Kado punished me for going after her and risking my life.

I nodded. "I'd like that."

Kado gave my hand a squeeze as he stood and pulled me to my feet. I lowered my head to hide the grimace and took a deep breath to keep from crying out. I was about to shift when Kado stopped me.

"One thing before you go."

He put his hand over my thighs without actually touching them, and I knew he was healing me the moment I felt the warmth building. I watched him, dumbfounded. He'd never healed me after a punishment before. I was beginning to wonder if I'd fallen asleep and was dreaming this whole thing.

Kado finished, and I shifted before I could wake up in case it was just a dream. I didn't want to face the waking world without seeing Cali, even if it wasn't real. Then I thought about it. There was no way I'd feel that amount of pain without it waking me. I couldn't be asleep, but I still couldn't grasp this change in Kado.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Twenty Twelve by Tracy Shew

Tracy Shew has had a varied life: Art Historian, professional pyrotechnician, professional philatelist, fledgling painter and sculptor, and once he managed the storage facility where Timothy McViegh had rented a unit, necessitating a week-long vacation as investigators did their duty in mid-1995. 

Currently, he leads a quiet, unassuming life as an IT professional in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. After a lifetime of experience, and writing for 15 years, he feels ready to share some of his milder perceptions with others, wrapped in digestible (?), bite-size tidbits of prose. His goal is to show that the "ordinary" world around us is actually highly extraordinary, and that our perceptions of it are malleable and unique. 

"If I've made you look at one thing around you in a new way, I'm satisfied."


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About the Book


A collection of 17 completely original, strange short stories which range from fantasy to science fiction to humor to horror. The one tying factor is they were all written in 2012. Also included is the novella, Inclemency.

Get it today on Amazon!


Keep reading for an interview with the author:


Why did you decide to be a writer?


I never decided to be a writer. I have always been a writer. I think everyone is a writer, or they should be.

Now, I did decide to try sharing my work with others at one point. In 2012, I was in a readers group. We decided to share any manuscripts or stories we had. I ended up being the only one contributing. The others were too shy. One of the other readers was Joyce Holt, a published author, who spent some time after reading my work convincing me to seek publication. Since then, I've been on a mission to learn about marketing and the industry, to spread my "message" to as many willing readers as possible.

When I was just a writer, I was OK just handing manuscripts to friends. Now, I have become a "marketer," who is someone who publishes or self-publishes.


What genres do you write?


I write very strange cross-genre literary stuff that I call urban fantasy, for want of a better word. Some of my short stories read like essays, and some are like classic science fiction. I use humor and elements of horror. My novels - currently unpublished - shift genres, from fantasy to science fiction to horror.

What inspires you to write?


75% of my ideas come from dreams. I jot them down and develop them into short stories. My novels also use dream imagery. My characters are drawn from everyday experiences and people I meet, often twisted and combined.

What is most important to me is the message of a work, what that work teaches you about the world or yourself. I don't write escapist literature. Rather, I write philosophical diatribes and social discussions wrapped in an entertaining story. The story becomes the spoonful of sugar to help you with the lesson.

I have a personal disdain for works without some content, and especially for fantasy which coordinates some huge structure for no other purpose than to titillate readers.


What authors/books have most influenced you?


I cite Rod Serling as my most endearing influence. He understood content over all. I also emulate a little-known genre-bending author, R.A. Lafferty. I wish I had the skill to write as well as he did. But any author who seeks the strange and unusual in the ordinary attracts me. Greg Bear once handed me a list of authors who enjoy the same strange stuff I love, and Haruki Murakami was at the top of the list.

Most of my current work is influenced in a secondary fashion by the work on perception by Roger Penrose. Mine is not scientific work, but I formulate a vague basis of "strange goings on" from perceptive relativism and plurality of perspective. Trust me, the details would bore you, so I omit them from my work and only deal with the consequences: Once you take the cap off the tube of perception, literally anything becomes possible.

If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?


I have approached Terry Bisson for advice, and he read one of my stories. Unfortunately, he told me considers himself as a one-way ticket to obscurity, so perhaps I should consider another choice.

What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?


Reaching my readers and standing out from a crowd of 5 million+ Indie authors is proving daunting. It is a curious milieu where you need to establish yourself as "different" - never a problem for me - but be close enough to established works that you are marketable.

I've really only started marketing myself now. Twitter has been a real help, getting me in touch with other authors and a lot of support people. But my immediate goal is to land a literary agent. My approach here is slow & tenacious. I do not feel like landing "any" agent, but I would like a "people" agency: Someone who presents themselves as a real help to authors, who recognizes new authors as a valuable resource. Basically, these are agents who will respond to questions and comments from authors on Twitter and other media. I realize this responsiveness means less time for them to work with me once I'm signed, but I am willing to accept that trade-off. Honesty and connecting with people trumps market chops in my opinion. The industry should be about connecting people and fostering relationships.

If I do land representation it should help jump-start my market. I feel my books are unusual enough that I should find a niche market. I envision myself becoming a cult classic author.


What is the worst writing advice you've ever received?


One of my Beta readers for Twenty Twelve advised me to not market my book, ever: "You are like a Stradivarius! You are like Jimmy Hendrix. If no one ever hears the music you play, then it becomes even more true!" He advised writing my books and then (I suppose) just keeping them in a drawer, like the notebooks of Hieronymus Bosch. This was in spite of the fact he left a review (for Twenty Twelve) stating that all seven billion people on the planet MUST read the book.

We are still good friends.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?


I am an officer in the China Stamp Society, and I am president of the Pacific Northwest chapter of the society. So, I'm heavily into stamp collecting.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?


Excuse me for being self-serving, but I would want "Hero of Dreams" by Tracy Shew, "The Book of Prime One" by Tracy Shew, "The Mask and the Mirror" by Tracy Shew, "Alizarin Crimson" by Tracy Shew, and "The Fallen Angel of Perception," by Tracy Shew, all of them works in progress. I would of course demand a suitable electronic device and a charger supplied by the Professor from Gilligan's Island, which runs on coconuts and bicycle power. I would write and revise for months until rescued. My books would become popular because of coverage of my rescue on CNN. "Hero of Dreams" would be runner-up (but not win) a Hugo award.

How many books do you have on your "to read" list? What are some of them?


I especially enjoy reading Indie books that I get exposed to on Twitter, from author promos. Right now I am ready to tackle a fantasy series by Serban V.C. Enache. I just finished Pete Alex Harris's The Silk Mind, which I found quite excellent. In there somewhere are most of the writing advice books by Rayne Hall.

How do you come up with the titles for your books? Do you find it difficult?


I try to come up with a working title, which is some plot detail from the book. I usually have Beta readers suggest other titles. Also, I am now working with illustrator Lawrence Mann, who has suggested a title for me. His advice is to have a title which gives the context or flavor of the book, so it becomes an additional selling point: a two- or three-word blurb of why you should buy this book.

What are you working on now?


I have a hard science fiction novel underway, "Hero of Dreams, or the Making of Sammy Lemkin." I'm also writing a nonfiction work about philately, "The District Overprints on Mexico's Revenue Stamps." And I have 2 or 3 short stories going, and another science fiction novel, "Alizarin Crimson." I usually write 4 or 5 things at once.


If you want to see me at PNWA conference and have me autograph your copy of TWENTY TWELVE, register soon. Registration cost increases on April 30th. For every autographed book, I'll also give away a free "I KNOW CHESTER THE FROOG" button.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Matanzas Moon: Ablaze by Elizabeth Raven

Elizabeth Raven is a wife, mother, and Veterinary Professional hovering in the shadows and moonlight of relentlessly sunny Jacksonville, Florida. Daylight hours are spent indoors working, reading, cooking, or spending time with family, friends, and her four black cats. Otherwise, she can be found dancing, socializing or joining Ghost Tours whenever her imaginary friends let her out to play!

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You can catch her at the Ancient City Con in Jacksonville in July!


About the Book


After a wicked Halloween showdown with the vigilante ghost of a Voodoo Priestess, clairvoyant Bridget Quinn is hoping her life will finally cool off. Winter never poses much of a threat to the Nation’s Oldest City where there’s no shortage of Holiday Spirits when the blazing Florida sun sets. Again, the Ancient City is plagued by mysterious murders, this time masked by arson. Hearse-driving Ghost Tour Guide, RIP Ryder, drowns his staggering guilt with excessive intoxication while Officer Nick Maddox’s heart breaks as Bridget’s peculiar behavior escalates. RIP has an epiphany, recognizing Nick and Bridget’s paranormal vexation as the work of RIP’s ghostly nemesis from years gone by... Can RIP rally the troops to save Nick and Bridget before the flames consume them all?




Keep reading for an interview with RIP Ryder from Matanzas Moon: Ablaze:


So this is the famous RIP Ryder, I thought to myself as I sat across from him on the breezy portico in Historic St. Augustine, Florida. The late afternoon sun highlighted his golden tan and rather obnoxious good looks. Wearing a pair of skater-pants, and a shirt with a slogan claiming vast sexual prowess and diversity on behalf of all paranormal investigators, RIP offered a relaxed and pleasant greeting. They said his wayward blond spikes, impish amber eyes, and cryptic tattoos stretched over sculpted muscles were a lethal combination for we who carry two X chromosomes. I had been warned.

My assignment was simple; my interview subject was… NOT. First: the obligatory easy questions. Get him talking, then I could skewer him like the womanizing worm he was.

“Tell us about yourself, RIP. Full name, please.”

“Ridley Tatum Ryder, III.”

“Where were you born? What was it like?”

“San Diego, California. Awesome weather, beautiful scenery, and a level of serenity I can’t even fathom anymore.”

“Is your family close?”

“What family? I was hatched, Claire.”

“What?! I’m Miranda!”

“Yeah. Miranda Claire Scott,” he said as if he were bored. “But they call you Claire. Right?”

With a slow drag from his cigarette, RIP watched me squirm. Mr. Ryder did his research, as well.

After a scowl, I continued:

“What’s your happiest childhood memory?”

“Emancipation.”

Typical, arrogant brat. Was it really that bad? I wondered. Maybe RIP was more complicated than I’d assumed.

Oops! He saw me roll my eyes.

Leaning forward in his chair, his tiger eyes narrowed at me as he campaigned to blow past the fluffy stuff.

“Look, Claire. My childhood was idyllic. At least until it wasn’t. I was popular and well-liked among my peers, and just smart enough to clown my way through adolescence, but not quite smart enough to progress to full self-actualization.” He stubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray. “C’mon, Claire. Is this what you really want?”

I ignored him as his curious eyes traveled over me. Did I really think dressing down would channel some inner Femi-Nazi to give me strength for this interview? Did I think I could just assume some empowered persona I haven’t even met simply through the magic of overalls and a bandanna? Perhaps my methodology could use some rethinking.

“Next question. You’re a legend around St. Augustine. If you could meet a legendary character from any novel, who would it be and why?”

“Easy! Hannibal Lecter. I hear he has a killer recipe for fava beans.”

“Um, okay.” Psycho. “If you could compare yourself to a character from another novel, who would it be?”

“James Bond.”

“Why?”

“Wait. WHY? Isn’t it obvious?” He leaned back to light another cigarette, tossing his lighter onto the table top with comical annoyance. “Rude.”

“Tell us a little about the world of RIP Ryder.”

“What can I say about this magical city that hasn’t been said before? History under every footstep. The ghosts of days gone by drift around you as the city breaths its life into us. And I make a living flapping my trap about it.”

“What is the strangest situation you've ever found yourself in?”

“Ah, yes. I remember it vividly. A threesome with a hermaphroditic midget. I woke up naked, floating on my back in the middle of a motel pool surrounded by a curious audience. The memory causes a shudder to this very day, Claire. … To. This. Day.”

“Wait. You’re not serious, are you?”

He laughed, and exhaled his cloud of indifference before answering.

“I’ve asked you once. Is this really what you want, Claire? Because I can blow smoke up any orifice you choose. All. Day. Long. But I sense you have an agenda, so hit me with your bigguns.”

I gasped. How dare he talk to me like that? How does he get away with this? Oh. Right. It’s RIP Ryder.

Before I could unleash my manifesto, he amended, “So put a space between the G’s. Big Guns. There. Better?” adding with a wink and a disarming smile, “I mean, unless you’re down with it.”

Speechless at his audacity, I reached to gulp my sangria. Why would he suggest such a thing? He wouldn’t find plain, little ol’ me attractive. Would he?

“What— Oh! I mean, where … ? Umm …”

Staring at him, I lost my train of thought as my pen-cap traced my lips inadvertently before leaping and clattering to the cobblestone floor. As I bent to grab it, my notebook slid scattering my papers everywhere, adding to my mortification. I slunk to retrieve what remained of my dignity when he swooped down beside me to help gather my loose-leaf, college-ruled pride. My arm brushed against his, causing little tingles to erupt in random places throughout my body.

Straightening his stack, RIP hand-delivered it to me with an affable smile while tipping an imaginary hat.

Be still my heart.

I steadied myself in my chair and scooted forward with a coy laugh. What’s wrong with me? Oh! His tattoos! They touched me. I’ve been infected!

“Thanks. I-I don’t know what just happened there.” Blushing shamelessly, I straightened my glasses and refocused. Hold it together! I’m going to be a serious journalist after I graduate, for Christ’s sake! Go on, give him the Claire Stare!

“So, umm. I’ve heard things … “ I began. My verbal attack skills were that of a sedated lamb. Good God, this whole thing’s tanking fast!

“Congratulations,” RIP offered with a golf clap. “Once mastered, our senses are largely taken for granted. Kudos to you, Claire. Kudos for listening.”

“No! I mean. About girls. And stuff. Like, YOU with girls. How do you show them you, y’know …“

Mental face-palm. Really? Is this what I’ve been reduced to? Playground lingo? Jeez, why don’t I pass him a note asking to check a box for yes or no if he likes me? Oh, how slippery a slope it is asking a man about his ting-ting traffic …

“That’s information best shared through the art of demonstration,” he said with a sly smile.

Oh, my!

Sorry folks. So much for my glorious sisterhood manifesto. I guess I got derailed a bit. The editors at the staff paper will be less than impressed, and I’ll probably fail my assignment. But, oh well. I have a stellar idea for an erotic short story! I think I’ll start *write* now!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Monochrome by H.M. Jones


H.M. Jones is a B.R.A.G medallion honoree for her debut dark fantasy, Monochrome, published by the Gravity Imprint of Booktrope. She also contributed a sci-fi short story, "The Light Storm of 2015," to Masters of Time, published by Creative Alchemy. 

Always a giving soul, her site features a freebie read called "Poison & Fire," an Adela Darken short. She writes poetry, new adult, young adult, fantasy, sci-fi and speculative fiction. She likes to bookstore hop, weave, teach college English and spend time with her kids and husband.


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About the Book


What would you do to save your most precious memories?

That’s the question that Abigail Bennet, a new mother, must answer in this dark fantasy.

The cries of her new baby throw Abigail into rage and desperation. Frightened by foreign anger and overwhelming depression, the first-time mother decides to end her life to spare the life of her only child. But before she acts on her dark intuition, she is overcome by a panic attack and blacks out.

When she awakes, everything is blue: the trees, the grass, the rocks and still, scentless sky above her. Everything except the face of the man who stands over her. He is Ishmael Dubois and claims to be her Guide through the dangerous world of Monochrome, a physical manifestation of the depressed mind. But in a place where good memories are currency, nightmares walk, and hopeless people are hired to bring down those who still have the will to live, Abigail starts to wonder if she’ll ever make it back to her family. Despite her growing feelings for her handsome, mysterious Guide, Abigail must fight for the life she once wished to take or fade into the blue.



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Keep reading for an interview with Ishmael from Monochrome:


What is the happiest memory from your childhood?


I don't remember so many of my best memories. I've had to give up most of them to survive this place. I have an image of my mother's eyes, muddy green. They were laughing at something, at me I think, but in a good way...in a way mothers laugh when they love their kids. I don't know if it's a real memory, but it's powerful. It feels real.

Who was your best friend growing up?


When you jump from foster care family to foster care family, you don't make friends. You fight off fake siblings. But Mara was okay. She was a lot older than me. She'd hold my hand on the way to one of the many schools I was forced to attend. Always the new student. She used to scold me about my constant frown, but I can tell she didn't mean it. Her mom got bored of me, but Mara sobbed when I left. I think she liked having a little brother, someone to love. I know I would have liked having her as a sister.

If you could compare yourself to someone from another novel, who would it be? What are your similarities and differences?


They call me Ishmael for a reason. I belong in an epic tale, a dreary tale. I belong with Dante, with the white whale, along Dicken's muddy London streets.

Who is your enemy? What makes you enemies?


You don't make friends in a place like Monochrome. If you get too fond of others, you forget to look out for yourself. I see everyone as an enemy, but not because I don't like them. Because I can't like them. Call it survival of the callous. But if I had to choose, I'd say Eric would be the first to watch me fall. The feeling's mutual. He's worst sort of scum, and he's hurt people I care about.

Who do you most admire in your world? Why?


Just a day ago, I would have answered this differently. I've never really admired anyone in this place. Everyone is selfish and stuck here, in their own ways. But my newest Lead, Abigail, is something else. From her first moments in Monochrome, she came out swinging. She gives me hope. It's a strange sensation, not one I'm used to. She could make it. Her best bet would be to leave me behind, but I won't tell her to. Because I'm not like her. I don't believe Reality is any better that what we have here. And, well, she's beautiful. Her strength makes her eyes glow, and they're already spring green. I almost forgot what that color that vibrant looked like.


Tell us a little about your world, and where you fit in?


I'm currently one of the many scumbag employees working in Monochrome, a world inhabited by the in-betweens, in between life and death. Those who try to force themselves out of Reality but fail come here. I'm a Guide. My "job" is to lead people to the border, if they choose to fight for their lives in Reality, or help them find a place here in Monochrome. I am encouraged to help them stay, of course. Misery loves company.

Do you have a close relationship with your family?


Pfft. What family? I took care of myself when the foster care system failed me. Mom loved me, but it wasn't enough. Love isn't enough. And family is a myth I don't believe in.

What was the most embarrassing moment in your life?


My life was an embarrassment. Or a joke. Just not a very funny one.

What is your greatest fear? How did you overcome it?


It's stupid, really, since I tried to take my own life, but I'm afraid of dying. I'm not sure I believe in the whole afterlife thing. And if it's real, I'll end in flames. Even this place is better than that.

Name some of your bad habits.


I smoke, drink, lie, and stew in my own misery. The harder question would be what are some of your good habits. I'm not sure I could answer that.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Think You Know Me by Tricia Copeland - Cover Reveal




Amanda’s first year of college is fraught with drama and parental scrutiny. With her relationship secure and a clean break from her parents, all she wants is a normal term. But fate steps in and deals a shattering blow. Think You Know Me will have you guessing from the first page.












Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in Colorado with her husband, three kids, and multiple four-legged and finned friends. This work is the third in the Being Me series. The first, Is This Me?, released in May 2015, and the second, If I Could Fly, published November 2015. Her first YA paranormal work entitled Drops of Sunshine will be available May 2016. If not on the trail, you can find Tricia at triciacopeland.com or on most social media channels.

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